Sunday, November 21, 2010

clearing winds

Every so often, things line up just right.Sunday's clearing NW winds were totally unexpected.
Combined with a big winter swell, it turned out to be one of the best days this fall.
You couldn't peel the smile off my face Sunday evening!

Video via the french connection!
I woke up and like habit checked the wind, explo cam and forecast.
By 11am, there was a solid breeze building and short boarders on the water.
Its Sunday. Change of plans!
By 1:30 I was headed out the gate in 15-25k on my favorite mikes lab 8'-10" slalom board and north warp 7.0 in a 5k ebb. I got the chance to try to the north shox for the 2nd time and wow- what a great tool. It dampens the load and lets you keep sheeted in longer to maintain full power. I had to sail through some viscous San Francisco Bay voodoo chop on the way up and the never felt like I was out of control. I set the SHOX at 80 mm so that it would give me the maximum amount of play in the steep, short SF chop.

Once up at the south tower, the swell was pumping. 10-15' sets breaking just outside the golden gate. Gomes had the place to himself on his surfboard and his purple kite. With the NW wind, its possible to ride the swell all the way into the rocks at Ft Point. I got a few runs with 5-6 bottom turns as the ebb was sucking the water right out beneath my feet. No doubt due to this weekends full moon!

The standing trough at the south tower was sick- just asking for big carving lay down gybes. I did the cycle- gybing every 20-30 seconds between the Ft Point and the South tower for at least an hour before Wells and Darcy joined in.
You can see how big Ft Point can get by the photo above. A few years ago- on a similar day, there was a spectacular wipe out and sinking of a Santana 22 that tried to go through the slot. Enjoy the full photo sequence at Wayne Lambright's page.

By 3pm, there was a full circus of kites and boards and you had to be a bit more selective on where you charged into or face the consequence of wrapping yourself in someones kite lines !
I took the opportunity to explore some other parts of the Bay that were going off.
The north tower had huge swell as well but was covered with a frothy 2-3' boiling voodoo chop as it was on the vortex of the ebb tide's peak. I usually avoid this like the plague when Im sailing formula gear but went in full throttle knowing I had a small board and small sail.
Even in the steepest of chop, charging downwind, the SHOX gave me more control allowing me to go faster. I usually have to let up a bit on the slalom gear knowing that it will take you faster than you can control but not this time.
The only disadvantage I can see is that its a bit heavy and with only a 4:1 downhaul purchase, getting the sail block to block was a challenge but with the integrated ratchet- it's possible. I did rig 2m higher because of this. Notwithstanding that fact, this piece of German engineering seems well built and totally worth any inconvenience. Now for the durability test! Lets see how it holds up over time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Golden Gate Surf

I knew it was going to be a good day when the fog horn woke me up Wednesday morning.
Like an old familiar friend, I recognized its voice cutting through the cold damp San Francisco morning.
The chill hit me when I walked to my van and packed up my board for the day.
Work came and went but my mind was on the water.
By 3;30 I was rigging up at crissy field as the sun peaked in beneath the layers of fog.
The ride up was as smooth as butter. Flat water and 12-16 knots straight from the west.
Perfect conditions for formula windsurfing.
Soheil and I disappeared into the white, dodging incoming freighters, outgoing ferries and this season's first crab boats masking their way in the San Francisco Bay.
Wells and Rathle were already on call paddling their SUP boards in the outer line up- just beyond Fort Point.
In sets of 3s and 4's, the incoming swells would punch through allowing for a decent run up and surf down their faces. At the last critical moment you could gybe off, accelerating as you carved down and shoot off to the left as the wave peels right and enters a windless zone just west of the fort point.
Its a fine line of either or...
If you gybe too late you get sucked into a windless vacuum with the next set looming and the surfers taunting.
Soheil wasn't so lucky and had to swim his gear out twice.
I played it cautious but scored on my first run catching of huge wake of a crab boat and surfing it it for almost a minute into the Bay.
David and Jean were catching wave after wave on their SUP boards and caught a few runs on camera as Soheil and I gybed around them.
Good Times!

We got great runs for at least another 30 min in 12-16k gybing between the south tower and Ft. Point catching the incoming swell. Every so often, a set would come in a surprise me as I looked back to see wall of breaking water.

Time to gybe...

Monday, November 15, 2010

November Bay Crossings

It was one of those rare November days in northern California. 75 degrees in the city and just enough wind to tempt me out on the water for a tour of the SF Bay. By 4pm I launched from crissy field and was planning across the Bay towards Yellow Bluff just below Ft Baker in the marin headlands.
With 10-15 knots and a relatively week flood tide, my light-wind formula set up was well powered in the flat water.
The ML10 finds an edge with a relatively soft fin in those conditions and is easily railed.
The NP 10.7 EVO2 is feather weight light and an ease to handle. 2 pumps and you're off!
I set my base further back in the track - 43" from the front fin screw.
Booms- 100% up in the cutout.
I try to feed the rig as much power in the lulls to keep the drive going until the next puff.

Sebastian Kornum- DEN-24 shows a similar technique for light wind railing.

Luckily it pays off and I'm mid span planning under the golden gate bridge blasting back towards Fort Point. The sun is peaking out from beneath the bridge casting a long shadow as I cross the Bay again.
The flood tide pulls me back inside the Bay- so I decide to run with it.
Bearing off, I immediately accelerate and onto the surging swell.
@buoy46012 says its NW but I swear there's some south in there.
I gybe back and forth- keeping in the windline and the swell as I work my way down the Bay.

The extra 1-2k of flood tide makes gybing in the flat water almost effortless and fun.
I throw the rig around, keeping my speed through the gybe and immediately continue on a plane on the other tack.
No need for any chicken strap today!

I continue downwind making my way towards Fort Mason on the San Francisco city front where things lighten up.
A quick gybe back and I'm back in the windline for one last charge upwind.
This one's a long one.
I make it worth my while as I may not have another for some time
A few minutes later, I make it back to Anita rock where I shlog the last hundred feet into shore.
As if today's crossing wasn' t enough, the sunset set was absolutely epic.
click to enlarge...

Monday, November 8, 2010

changing seasons/changing gears

Daylight savings kicked in today meaning that if your going to score a session, start making excuses by 1:30 and be out of the office by 2:30 at the latest...
Its the time of year, that if its blowing you need to go now as it might not be in an hour or 2 like the summer months where the thermals provide a reliable seabreeze every afternoon on the San Francisco Bay

I actually scored some decent formula session the last 2 days with the westerlies kicking in 10-15k and even 10-20k at the bridge and was quite stoked to see another day where I could get out on the water. After a windless October, I had even considered some SUP to hold me over for the winter months O_o

I got the chance to paddle with the crissy crew during game 1 of the World Series.
Enjoy the video from waterhound

It was dying as I arrived at 3 and actually kicked myself for forgetting my 7.0 as everyone was headed out on slalom gear but got the best session fully lit on formula/9.5 at ft point as everyone shlogged in on their 7.0s. The 5k ebb made a huge trough at south tower but with only 12-16k I managed just a few runs tempting fate. The 6-10' swell was stacking up nicely just outside the gate at the south tower with a few rolling sets making their way through the slot. I got flushed out of one gybe and ended up swimming for my gear past the red nun.
Next stop- farallon islands 12 miles out to sea.
Time to play it cautious!
I made the run back downwind against the 5k current which felt like I was dragging a sea anchor. 20 gybes later I made it back to crissy field where it was already getting dark by 4:45.
Hopefully more of the same later this week...